Twentieth Century New Testament

Lifetime: 1898 -

The Twentieth Century New Testament (TCNT) is an English translation of the New Testament. Originally published in three parts between 1898 and 1901, it is considered the first translation of the Bible into present-day English. After further revisions based on suggestions from readers, the final version was published in 1904.


The Twentieth Century New Testament was produced in Britain over a period of 15 years by a group of approximately 20 people. Although they were all fluent in the "koine" Greek of the New Testament, the translators were not professional scholars but a varied cross section of society—ministers, housewives, school teachers, railroad workers, and businessmen. However they shared the desire (as the Preface to their work puts it), "to do for the English nation what has been done already for the people of almost all other countries -- to enable Englishmen to read the most important part of their Bible in that form of their own language which they themselves use."


As the project progressed J. Rendel Harris and Richard Francis Weymouth, two well known scholars of the time, voluntarily advised the group, helping to ensure scholarly integrity. Also, translation was done using the then-cutting edge Westcott and Hort text of the Greek New Testament, further adding to the accuracy of their rendering.


In a break with most translations, the TCNT arranges the New Testament books in the order scholars believe they were written -- Mark comes before Matthew, for instance. They also include brief introductions before each book. Because of the translators' meticulous attention to the best scholarship of their day, Bruce Metzger concluded that their version still holds up remarkably well today, despite the lapse of over 100 years.


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